Roses – Outdoors and Indoors

Roses - Pink Roses

“We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie, American playwright 1888 – 1955.


Roses - 'Apricot Twist' Miniature RoseRoses—one of my favorite flowering plants! My first experience with growing them came by me being too practical! As a young bride I loved the roses that my husband brought home to me but decided maybe he should buy bare root rose plants instead and we could save money and have our own rose garden; thus began a series of learning rose tips (and learning to not expect many more bouquets!!) There are many varieties of roses available, but don’t be fooled by other plants that have rose in the name. For example, the Desert Roses are actually a form of Succulent Plants.


Roses - Creamy Yellow, Ruffled BloomsHow to Plant Roses

In order to have beautiful, healthy plants with gorgeous flowers, first choose an open area of your garden or yard that gets approximately 6 hours of sunlight; this also helps avoid mildew or thrips (a type of insect). If roses have been planted in that location previously I recommend using fresh soil. I rototilled my chosen area thoroughly then decided where to place which roses, according to type, color arrangement, etc.


Soak a bare root rose in a pail of water before putting it in the ground; if it is a potted rose soak the plant well and allow it to sit until the ground is prepared. Since I wanted my roses to have plenty of sun and space for the roots to grow, I dug holes about 18 inches deep by 36 inches across (some sites recommend 15″ x 18″); my roses were stupendous!


Post-Planting Maintenance

Later, when the plants are in the ground and roots are taking hold, check the soil an inch below the surface to see if they need watered. If it is dry, soak them slowly to a depth of about 6 inches. Mist the plants as often as you can while they are getting rooted; continue misting daily until the new leaves are out.  Once the rose bushes have fully leafed out, apply a fertilizer and again after the first 6 weeks. Check the package for regular fertilization tips. ‘Miracle-Gro Rose Plant Food’ gave exceptional results.

Roses - Deja Blue My Bouquet Rose


Mulching helps the plants to retain moisture, discourages weeds and keeps the roots cooler during hot days. Cultivate just the top soil so you do not damage roots but allow air to enter the soil. Roses should be transplanted in the early spring while the bushes remain dormant.


Roses - Peachy Cream Rose

Raising Roses in Cold Climates

If you live in a cold climate, plant roses deeper (crown 1-2 inches below the surface), cover them well for winter—check with your local nursery on protection, fertilization, watering, spraying, misting and other tips. Choosing a variety of rose that is hardy in cold weather is a good way to reduce the risk of losing your plants during the cold season. Look for notes  in the rose bush’s description that say “Hardy cold weather”. I’m not particularly familiar with growing roses in below zero weather.

Roses - White RosesPest Control

Aphids are insects that live in colonies on the back of rose leaves and on the buds. They reproduce rapidly and can cause major damage to your plants. Liquid Castile or olive oil soap (in a spray bottle) will make an environmentally-friendly insecticidal spray that will kill aphids within an hour of spraying. When an hour has passed, gently rinse the roses with the water hose to wash off soap residue and dead bugs. This spray only kills on contact so you will have to repeat as necessary to keep the aphids down. Spray or dust for black spot and mildew as required (mildew can cause a loss of scent on the flower).

Caring for Miniature Roses Indoors

When most people think of rose bushes they think of gardens, but fortunately Roses also come in miniature versions that are beautiful on indoor plant stands and are great for patios as well. The care of miniature roses is very similar to that of full-sized roses, except that the potted miniatures may require more frequent watering, have fewer pest issues if kept indoors, and no rototilling required if grown in flower pots. Keeping those differences in mind, the plant health care tips here generally apply to both potted miniature and full-sized roses.

Roses - Rose Garden BasketUnlike Cyclamen, Roses are not poisonous plants and aside from being cautious of the thorns around children and animals, there is no danger of having them in the house. Caring for roses indoors is more challenging than most houseplants. I do not recommend them in the list of Best Indoor Plants for Beginners, and they are not as easy to grow as African Violets; however, you may find it less stressful than Orchid care, at least in my opinion. Be sure that you place your potted roses near a window where they get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. If your roses start to fail, set them outside for a few days where they have plenty of light and fresh air (weather permitting).

Pruning your Rose Bushes

Prune for plant health, vigor and direction before new growth begins in the spring; also to get rid of diseases or weakened/damaged canes. Check carefully on pruning instructions before you use those shears!

If you like flowers in the house, early morning is the best time to cut roses—slice the flower stem at an angle using a sharp knife.


Rose Bouquets and the Symbolism of Colors

A rose from the florist shop usually has been engineered and bred for longevity and affordability at the cost of the fragrance, so if you want fragrant blooms you are better off growing your own roses. Many types of flowers are beautiful with roses, for example, the picture below shows the dramatic beauty of roses with Calla Lilies while a picture above shows a mixture of miniature and full-size pink roses. A current trend is to have multicolored or unusually colored rose flowers, but if you are buying rose seeds or bare root rose bushes be certain that the picture is not of a dyed rose or photoshopped for appeal. While searching for nice photos for this website I came across purple roses that were dyed and multicolored roses that were truly bred that way. Be sure to read labels and descriptions carefully before purchasing. With the wide varieties of colors and breeds of flowers that have been developed over centuries, people have attributed meanings to specific flowers. If you want to send flowers but aren’t sure whether your choice symbolizes the meaning you hope to convey, check with a florist.

  • red rose means passionate love
  • pink rose signifies appreciation
  • peach or yellow roses indicate friendship and happiness
  • Calla Lily is regal
  • hydrangea is for perseverance
  • pink tulips signify caring
  • peonies are for healing
  • both orchids and hibiscus (2 reputedly tropical plants) mean delicate beauty


If flowers aren’t your thing, check out our pages on Spider Plants and Palm Plants for care tips.

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African Violets

African Violets – A Brief History

African Violets (Saintpaulias) are tropical plants that were found in the wilds of Africa in 1892 and their common name is from their resemblance to true violets (Violaceae). Before the end of the 19th century, African Violets were being propagated in hothouses in Europe.

African Violet - Varied Colors

Figure 1: Colors of African Violets

In 1927 a California nursery ordered seeds for the African Violet from England and Germany – then these flowering plants became known globally and are now among the most popular house plants. Of the 1,000 plants grown, ten were chosen as the first hybrids and introduced to the world in 1936. Despite the fact that most commercial plants are grown from cuttings and tissue culture, many of the species of African Violet are now endangered, as their habitats are cleared for agriculture.

African Violet Description

African Violets are a flowering perennial, highly sensitive to temperature change — particularly if their leaves cool rapidly. The leaves are covered in a stiff “velvet” that adds to the beauty of these flowering plants. The sheen on the leaves in Figures 1, 2, and 3 are the light reflecting off of the fine filaments that make up the velvet.

Like Cyclamen, these plants are valued more for the beautiful flowers than the foliage. In the wild they produce violet, pale blue, white and purple flowers; as a general rule size varies from the micro at less than 3 (three) inches to the giant that can grow to approximately 16 inches.

 African Violet Propagation

The simplest way to begin new plants is to pick a leaf off at the base of the African Violet and stick it into damp soil. Keep the humidity right and you’ll have a new plant coming.

One other method that I have used is to fill a glass with water and put a plastic bag over the top secured with a rubber band. Make a small slit in the bag and push the stem through into the water; soon you will see roots appearing, ready to plant. Make sure that when you plant it the soil is not touching the leaf – only the stem.

African Violet Care

As indoor plants, grown under proper conditions including the use a sterile pot and soil, good water flow/drainage, and indirect, filtered afternoon sunlight, African Violets will bloom endlessly. There are many beautiful flower pots and indoor plant stands that suit African Violets perfectly.

African Violet - Decorative Basket

Figure 3: African Violet Plants in a Decorative Basket

I recommend buying small stones from the nursery to line the bottom of the pot for improved drainage and using potting soil made specifically for African Violets. Optimal plant health care requires you to periodically repot the African Violet to avoid overcrowding the roots.

The soil for the plant should be kept slightly damp. The easiest way to water is from the base; do not get the leaves wet as it makes ugly brown spots on them. Never saturate the soil. Daytime temperature should be between 70 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit; don’t let it drop below 60 degrees overnight.

To keep the plants growing evenly and to obtain a good shape to your African Violet, turn the pot one-quarter turn every second day – always the same direction. Regular fluorescent lights for about 16 hours per day with 8 hours of darkness will usually give sensational bloom but the plants will need extra food and water. Group your plants to help keep the humidity at the required level. Whatever fertilizer you choose, use it in the water according to directions and give them this every time you water.  If you also have Succulent plants, the African Violet fertilizer can be used on them as well.

African Violets - Basket Bouquet

Figure 4: Mixed Basket of African Violets and Ivy

Alternative Growth Methods

African Violets give amazing growth hydroponically. Old leaves may yellow as they adapt to the new system; remove them and soon the plant will offer brighter blossoms and stronger leaves. The link, Hydroponics Systems, offers complete hydroponics systems, educational books, and organic fertilizers to aid you in setting up your own hydroponics system.

You can also grow African Violets in a terrarium or similar atmosphere where they get plenty of humidity.

Modern Uses of African Violets

African Violets - Mixed basket

Figure 5: Mixed Basket of African Violets, Roses, Azaleas, Ivy and Pink Hypoestes

Florist shops have recently had an increasing demand for bouquets that include African Violets. A decorative bouquet of this type is often made up of blooms from flowering plants such as Roses, Azaleas, Hibiscus, Hydrangea, Gardenia, OrchidsPeonies, and spring flowers – add beautiful potted violets in varying shades and you have a rainbow of colors to delight the eye! The baskets featured in Figures 3, 4, and 5 are examples of how beautiful such bouquets from florists can be.

Some species of spring flowers are poisonous to cats, among them the Peony, Tulips and certain Lilies; however, the African Violet, Easter Orchids, Miniature Roses and other popular types of flowering plants and most varieties Palm Plants are non-toxic to them. However, if a child or pet ingests or gets cut on any plant, call a poison control center immediately. It’s better to be overly cautious than to lose a loved-one, and many plants are very toxic. For more information on the subject, see Poisonous Plants.


Sources and Citations  – research source  – research source  – research source  – research source – research source